Transitory tales from a rambling man
Steve Gunn has taken your wanderlust and bottled it into nine-track album Eyes On The Lines, his debut release under Matador Records. Using a full band expansion, Gunn has rallied nine credited players for this effort and this intricacy shows in deftly constructed melodies and restless beats, seamless shifts and the meticulous marriage of guitars, keys, reverb, percussion and more.
“Ancient Jules” opens up like a dusty old classic rock spinner from the 70s your dad might put on while an expanse of rural highway stretches before you; jammy guitar rock with all the meandering thoughtfulness we’ve come to appreciate from reflective, road-ready music that still saves the listener from the usual pitfall of long-winded, self indulgent tapering.
“Park Bench Smile” has a sense of urgency while maintaining that prior established industrious beat; with constant high-hat hits and a smidgen of soul infused in the vocal delivery, taken to task by a rolling guitar and some roaming reverb to add an extra dash of drama. This is a ‘leaving home’ type of song – a decision making track, a change up ditty if you will – at the two minute mark some echoing keys clang their way onto the scene, creating a beautiful drama that feels immediately personal and yet somehow also like it traverses space and time. A very well curated track that doesn’t overstay it’s welcome, “Park Bench Smile” fades away at about three minutes.
Album closer “Ark” vibrates parallel universe “Norwegian Wood” vibes; an easy and repetitive acoustic and percussion pairing that follows a simple melody to create a stage for vocals to creep in from what feels like down the hall before tapering off into another starry set of rocketing electric guitar. Again, Gunn somehow manages to take the metaphysical and make it tangibly normal; listening to “Ark” is the equivalent of sitting on your porch at dusk, only the find the sun has set and the stars have come out. This confirms what Matador Records outlines about Eyes On The Lines, stating”These are songs you can take in quickly, but spend all the time in the world devouring. The very large and the very small are present in equal measure. The inability to categorize them within the avalanche of impotent diatribes that pass for categorization is a testament to their power.”
Though lyrically Eyes On The Lines is purposefully left open ended and vague while also lacking in a certain sharpness that may have lent a bite of conflict to an otherwise relatively complacent, contemplative effort, Eyes On The Lines is a fulfilling enterprise; one that will easily lull the listener into a vegetative state of nomad-ism, and perhaps might even spur you to get up and go find it.